Suppose I have a Terminal open that contains thousands of lines of output from my previous commands over the past few hours/days. How do I search that recorded output for a string? I'm especially interested in a solution that doesn't require the mouse.

I know I should have used tee, but that's not always convenient.

I know I could "Select All", then open an editor, paste, then search, but I'm hoping for something simpler (and Select All seems to require the mouse).

I was hoping there would be a "Find..." command in the menu bar (like Mac OS X has).

  • 2
    I didn't even realize there was a "Find..." command until you mentioned it in OS X, so +1 to this question for being the answer to my Googling. Oct 2, 2013 at 17:48

7 Answers 7


Finding text in scrollback is a weakness of most terminal emulators; the only ones I know of that provide it are OS X Terminal and Terminator. That said, you could run GNU screen in any terminal and search its scrollback buffer in copy mode.

  • Thanks geekosaur. I also just found this 'idea' on the ubuntu site, which just seems to confirm that it is impossible as of yet: brainstorm.ubuntu.com/idea/9841
    – Joseph Johnson
    Jun 28, 2011 at 4:56
  • Just adding that you can use Byobu which based on TMux or Screen
    – Boynux
    Nov 27, 2013 at 2:12
  • Terminator doesn't highlight text when you search for it.
    – user171453
    Mar 16, 2016 at 10:30
  • Do you happen to recall how to find text in the OS X Terminal? I'm trying to do that right now, and I'm having difficulty successfully searching out this information.
    – M. Justin
    Mar 30, 2021 at 16:16

If you are running a gnome-terminal (default GUI terminal on ubuntu) you can hit shift+ctrl+f, type your search terms, and hit enter. Still graphical, but no mouse required.

  • Thanks SynapticUnderrun, but your tip doesn't seem to work for me. I'm using a fresh install of ubuntu 10.4.
    – Joseph Johnson
    Jun 28, 2011 at 20:59
  • 1
    This works on ubuntu 10.10 and 11.04. I'm running 10.10 right now and using gnome-terminal 2.32.0 so perhaps upgrading gnome-terminal would help. Since this uses a gtk pop-up window to enter in search text, you will have to be running X for it to work. But you don't need to use the mouse and it will search the entire terminal buffer (which you can set to unlimited in the Edit->Profile Preferences dialog).
    – SynapticUnderrun
    Jun 29, 2011 at 16:31
  • Thanks SynapticUnderrun, I'll definitely look for that next time I can upgrade.
    – Joseph Johnson
    Jun 29, 2011 at 20:38
  • 1
    Just worked for me also in xfce4-terminal, (X)ubuntu Raring 13.04. Thanks. Oct 26, 2013 at 2:25
  • 7
    This should be the accepted answer. Works for me on Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.
    – user171453
    Mar 16, 2016 at 10:34

Shortcut to find string inside the terminal data : ctrl + shift + f

  • 2
    Works with default xfce4-terminal 0.6.3 on Xubuntu 16.04.
    – Jaakko
    Jun 5, 2017 at 6:43

Have you considered using pipe and grep?

YourCommand | grep str

Hope this helps

  • 5
    He asked for searching in output of already run commands and also mentioned that tee is not always convenient to use and so is grep!
    – Aamir
    Jun 29, 2011 at 1:56
  • 1
    This question came up when i googled 'search terminal output' and I think this answer is great, it really helped me out (even if it technically wasn't suitable for OP)
    – Toms Code
    Jul 6, 2021 at 18:25
  • This will not work for awk | grep bugs need to use awk --help | grep bugs instead. Jul 13, 2022 at 21:11

Try konsole in kde. It works with gnome/unity too. Program the Find shortcut to alt-f or ctrl-f, it can search forward or backward, plus it will highlight new output that matched the searching pattern.


If you are using terminal on Mac OS, you can simply use Command ⌘ F


For the logs: also guake supports searching via ctrl+shift+f since https://github.com/Guake/guake/pull/1533 was merged

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